This is a curious pairing of two solid if undercelebrated Pretenders recordings by Warner Brothers Europe. Get Close
, released in 1986, was the first showcase for Chrissie Hynde, the only really permanent fixture as both the chief songwriter and leader of the Pretenders. Indeed, while the group's early phase was dominated by her persona, the group played together as a band. After the deaths of Pete Farndon and James Honeyman-Scott
, Hynde soldiered on as a survivor and took the band into its second incarnation. The third phase of the Pretenders offered the look at Hynde as rock's most musically attractive and enduring entrepreneur, who put craft above everything else. While her backing band on the record sound like hired guns -- they are -- they nonetheless shine in a solid, well-executed series of tracks. Last of the Independents
, the latter album included here, was issued in 1995. It was a bit of a comeback after a couple of dowdy offerings for Hynde. The elastic toughness of Last of the Independents
leaves the overproduced and unfocused sound of Packed!
in the dust while touching its feet upon the harder rock & roll ground covered on Learning to Crawl
, and the more lush and emotive machinations of Get Close
. Whether or not these recordings were of interest separately, there is a new case to be made when packaged together.